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STEM Education News

December 11, 2014

In This Issue:

STEM Education Programs in the Proposed FY 2015 “Cromnibus”

On December 9, House leadership and appropriators released their proposal to fund the federal government for the remainder of FY 2015, which began on October 1, 2014.  (Federal agencies and programs have been supported by a temporary spending measure that expires on December 11, 2014.)

The $1.1 trillion bill has advocates going through over 1,000 pages of language and charts.  The bill is a mixed bag for education and research advocates and has been cast as a last marker for this Congress and a first step toward GOP control in the next.  It also has a number of policy riders of varying controversy—selling marijuana in the District of Columbia, school lunch nutritional requirements and presidential conventions are among topics addressed by various riders.

House leadership hopes to get the bill done by the weekend.  Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has a daughter getting married Saturday, and he would prefer to be done for the year by then.  Of course, he needs some Democratic support for the bill, since it’s clear not all Republicans will support it.  He also needs to get his House colleagues to approve a bill that the Senate won’t change at all.  So, he may have to come back to the District after the festivities despite his best efforts. Full article

White House Announces New Computer Science Education Commitments

Earlier this week, President Barack Obama helped kick off Computer Science Education Week with a special White House event and announcements of new commitments to expand computer science education. Both the President and Vice President participated in an Hour of Code with middle-school students from New Jersey, making headlines as the first President to write a line of code.

Announcements of new commitments included news that more than 60 school districts, including New York City, Los Angeles Unified, Chicago, Miami-Dade County, Clark County, Broward County, and Houston, will begin offering computer science courses to their students. Code.org will provide the curriculum and support teachers in these districts, which together serve over 4 million middle and high school students at more than 1,000 schools. Currently, 9 out of 10 U.S. schools do not offer computer programming courses, according to Code.org, and 25 states do not count computer science towards graduation requirements. Through a commitment of $20 million, private companies and philanthropists will ensure that 25,000 teachers are prepared to begin teaching computer science by Fall 2016.

The White House also announced that the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) will launch a nationwide initiative in January to engage Latinas, the fastest-growing female population in the U.S., in computing and technology careers. Code.org estimates that just 15% of people in computer science are women, and only 8% are Hispanic Americans or African Americans.

The National Science Foundation and its non-profit partners announced a number of new commitments aligned with the CS 10K Project, an initiative to bring rigorous computer science courses to 10,000 schools to be taught by 10,000 well-prepared teachers. In the 2016-17 school year, the College Board will launch the new Advanced Placement (AP) Computer Science Principles course, which was partially funded by NSF. The National Math and Science Initiative will broaden its computer science professional development offerings and will include training around the AP Computer Science course, as well as the Exploring Computer Science course. Additionally, NSF and Code.org are forming a public-private partnership with a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to continue co-developing programs and projects that expand computer science education.

Learn more about these and other commitments by reading this White House Fact Sheet.

Albert Einstein Fellows News
Fellows Teach Virginia Students an Hour of Code

By Anna Sumner, ’14-’15 AEF

As part of this week’s nationwide celebration of Computer Science Education Week, Albert Einstein Fellows Mary Patterson, Trey Smith and Anna Sumner joined with the Richard Byrd Library in Fairfax County, VA to introduce students to an Hour of Code. Children attending this program represented the faces of the community and the excitement for learning more about Computer Science.

The hour covered three areas addressed in Computer Science. The activities allowed the children to see how sorting, patterns, binary, communication, and collaboration lead to computational thinking. Students became aware of the many career options in this field. They also became aware of opportunities available after high school, certification possibilities, community college, and college degrees. The hour concluded by distributing Certificates of Completion, take home information and a sweet treat.

The Friends Group President at the library, Christine Peterson wrote: “A huge thank you for coming to Richard Byrd Library and doing such an amazing program. The 20 children left knowing the fundamentals of the binary system, coding, and networking for two reasons. You designed the perfect hands on activities and you knew just how to inspire them. You gave us (and these children) a wonderful holiday gift and we truly appreciate it. Thank you.”

The Hour of Code movement is aiming for 100 million students to participate this year. These Albert Einstein Fellows were happy to add to the numbers. But most importantly, they hope the 20 students enjoyed the experience and have a better understanding of the Computer Science world.

Member Spotlight
Museum of Science, Raytheon Announce STEM Scholarship Winners

The Museum of Science, Boston and Raytheon Company this week awarded 36 Engineering is Elementary® (EiE) Scholarships to teachers in disadvantaged, rural, and inner city schools across the country. Each teacher will receive $2,500 for professional development and classroom materials to implement the innovative EiE curriculum, developed by the Museum of Science, Boston at its National Center for Technological Literacy® (NCTL®).

This year’s awards are part of an ongoing collaboration; over the past three years, Raytheon has awarded nearly 100 individual teacher scholarships as part of a $1 million EiE grant to the Museum through the company’s MathMovesU® program, which is designed to engage middle and elementary school students and build their interest in math and science education. Research shows that EiE helps elementary students become more interested in engineering as a career. The curriculum was recognized this year with the ISDDE Prize for “excellence in design for education in science or mathematics” from the International Society for Design and Development in Education.

“Many elementary teachers don’t have a background in science or engineering,” said Christine Cunningham, director of EiE and vice president at the Museum of Science, Boston. “We’re really pleased to offer support through the Raytheon scholarships; workshop graduates tell us EiE professional development helps them feel confident about teaching these subjects.”

Hands-on and project based, EiE is used in every U.S. state and has already reached an estimated 73,500 teachers and 6.8 million students; a contract competitively awarded this fall by the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) through project management partner IBSS Corporation will also bring EiE to students on military bases across the nation.

Click here for a complete list of Raytheon-EiE scholarship recipients.

ED Releases Teacher Prep Regulations

On November 25, the Department of Education (ED) released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to strengthen teacher preparation programs.  The announcement followed news from ED and the White House earlier this year that the agency intended to revive the regulatory package that had been abandoned in 2012.  The community has been expecting the package since this summer.  As a reminder, the 2012 rulemaking on teacher preparation programs was required as a result of the enactment of the Higher Education and Opportunity Act of 2008 and the creation of the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant program, which gives grant aid to students studying to be teachers who agree to teach certain high-need subjects in certain hard-to-staff schools.  The 2012 proposed rule sought to define a “high-quality program” in the TEACH grant statute.  ED’s proposal essentially required every state to rate its teacher preparation programs and allow only those with the highest rating to be considered high-quality, and thus eligible to offer TEACH grants.  In the package, the state-mandated ratings would be based on four indicators: (1) surveys of principals who hire the graduates, (2) surveys of graduates of the program, (3) placement and retention rate of graduates, and (4) value-added scores of students taught by the graduates.  Along with the indicators for each teacher preparation program, a State must rate each program based on four tiers: low performing; at-risk; effective; or exceptional.  Teacher preparation programs rated below effective for two of the three previous years will be unable to offer TEACH grants to their students.  However, programs in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) with a certificate component will not be held accountable to the same rating system and can continue to offer grants as long as 60 percent of recipients successfully complete one year of teaching within three years of finishing their programs.  All ratings and reports are required to be posted on a state report card that must be uploaded to the institution’s website to increase program transparency.  The K-12 and higher education communities are working together on responses to the proposal, with some groups issuing single statements of concern or opposition and others waiting to decide how and whether to respond. The American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education represents a constituency significantly affected by the proposal and will certainly be conveying concerns of teacher educators.  Interested parties have an open comment period of 60 days to respond to the proposed regulations.  Final regulations are scheduled to be announced in September 2015 with a pilot year beginning in spring of 2018 and full implementation by April of 2020.  For the official NPRM for teacher preparation programs, go to: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2014-12-03/html/2014-28218.htm.  For more information and additional resources from ED, go to: http://www.ed.gov/teacherprep.